A third of businesses are investing in automation due to staffing concerns


One in three businesses are looking into investing in automation as a top priority as staff shortages continue to slow company activity, according to a new study.

The survey, conducted by retail bank HSBC, found that 40% of UK companies had negative feelings about the level of recruitment and staff.

“The research shows that infamous entrepreneurial spirit of UK businesses continues to lead them to invest, innovate and re-define their growth ambitions,” said James Cundy, HSBC UK’s managing director and head of mid-market corporate banking and structured finance.

Any increase in automation at the workplace is often followed by concerns over the potential loss of human jobs. However, the consensus among experts is that automation is more likely to augment human jobs than replace them, and those it does replace are more likely to be in roles that are either dangerous or highly repetitive.

Automation is an attractive option for businesses at a time when job vacancies and operational costs are high.

A separate study, commissioned by Yell, found that UK businesses could save more than £29,000 per year by adopting AI technology, including chatbots and automated financial reporting.

Yell’s report also included a potential cause for concern, as it found that 67% of UK business leaders were concerned that an increase in the use of automation will mean significant job losses.

“It seems we are on the verge of another revolution with AI, with the time-saving and money-making capabilities of the technology being an absolute game-changer,” said Claire Miles, CEO of Yell.

“The responsibility is now on business leaders of the world to ensure that any form of artificial intelligence is implemented properly, with the right security measures to alleviate trust and privacy concerns, as well as using it effectively and sensitively to create more specialised jobs, as the way we all work changes.’’

A campaign from the performing arts union Equity called ‘Stop AI Stealing the Show’ was recently formed to spread awareness of the risk of job losses to automation in creative industries, an area they consider ignored by the wider AI conversation.